Tread softly…

Tread softly is not just a warning about this plant that when touched will cause a burning rash. This plant too was on the restored dune area of the Lauderdale by the Sea beach. The pretty white flowers betray it’s named warning; Tread softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus). I would suggest tread away from any patches of this plant; another reason to stay on established pathways.

Macro photo of the pretty little white Tread Softly flower. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

The prickly bristles are evident here; strongly suggesting I avoid touching. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Not an area to walk in. Note the dangerous Tread Softly with clusters of even sharper Beach Star plants. Not all the danger is found in the ocean’s waters. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Barefooters beware…

One of my favorite beach areas is the established dunes in north Lauderdale by the Sea. Previous posts have shown some of the diversity of plants thriving in this small area. However, if you are barefoot on your walk when you reach this area I strongly suggest you put your sandals or flip-flops on to walk through this vegatation. My first time there I thought I could see where to safely step without pricking my feet on the Beach Star (Cyperus pedunculatus)’s spikey leaves. However, new sprouts are very tiny and easily hidden with blown sand; but when stepped upon it’s prick is quite obvious. This tiny plant packs a painful warning; stay on the paths and wear your shoes so you help protect the dunes.

Natural dune protector. Beach Star plants of various sizes, each packing a painful punch when stepped upon. This one, like most are mostly hidden from blown sand. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Some among many. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Some of the Beach Star are large enough to be seen and avoided. But if you look carefully there are many tiny new plants acting as guardians of the Dune. Happy Earth Day. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Sun on the beach…

This bit of sunshine is the Dune Sunflower (Helianthus debilis) found on the sandy bank just off the beach in front of Sea Watch restaurant, Lauderdale by the Sea. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Bright growth amongst the arid…

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) close-up view. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

CLICK this image to read more information on the Purslane. This cluster was on the beach side of Sea Watch restaurant in Lauderdale by the Sea,a Florida. BOTH places I heartily recommend. Copyrightberg

Durable, beneficial, loveliness…

This delicate bloom can withstand the harsh shoreline environment including winds and waters. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

This delicate bloom can withstand the harsh shoreline environment including winds and waters. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Time on the beach, for me, includes checking out the plants on the inland edges. My newness to the area had me assuming that this thick, prolific mass was native to the area. Closer study has taught me this is not the case.

Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is the African relative of Florida’s native Coco Plum. Both species live on the sandy shores. Both have edible plum-like fruits. Natal Plums’s invasive character includes spine tipped leaves which are oft overlooked with focus going to their graceful year-long blooming white flowers and reddish fruit.

After flowering the Natal Plum fruits emerge here, still too unripe for eating. The “plum” is the only non-poisonous part of the Natal Plum. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Ready to eat Natal Plum. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Emergent succulent…

This image shows new Sea Purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), a salt-loving, heat tolerant vine that easily anchors in sand dunes and beaches. The stalk is red when exposed to salt and sand; both of which were plentiful at this location, Lauderdale by the Sea’s beach. The pink flowers had not yet developed, but will be present year-round once the plant matures. More and more green space is appearing on the beach as erosion efforts have become more “natural”.

Sea Purslane , copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Sea Purslane , copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Joys in new learnings…

Last summer I posted a request for help with identifying this oft seen flowering vine along the shore of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The flower resembles a petunia, but the leaves do not seem to belong to the flower I know by this name. My appetite for learning about this environment, so different from Chicago, has me slowly concocting a Southern Florida reference section to our library. In spite of seemingly limitless internet reference sites, I find I still turn to old-fashioned BOOKS as a way to double-check my online learning. (Besides BOOKS are great when one is not “connected”). Now my job becomes matching my observations to specific referenced species.

Meet the Railroad Vine a native to southern Florida beaches, unlike myself. This plant is actually a variety of Morning Glory. The long vine and succulent leaves help this plant thrive amidst the strong winds and inconsistent moisture of beaches and dune. Blooms, typical of its family, open in the morning and last only one day. However, this vine is prolific in flower production, so each morning new flowers open to bring tropical color to the otherwise neutral beach setting.


Railroad Vine copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Railroad Vine copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Railroad Vine on beach, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg

Railroad Vine on beach, copyright 2014 Pamela Breitberg